A spiritual tradition emerging from the bhakti movement, celebrating the teachings of Guru Ravidas.

The Ravidassia religion, also known as the Ravidas Panth, is founded on the teachings of Guru Ravidas, a prominent figure in the North Indian bhakti movement. This religious movement emphasizes the oneness, omnipresence, and omnipotence of God, advocating for the equality of all human beings regardless of caste or social status. Ravidassia teachings stress the importance of realizing God within one’s lifetime, a goal achievable through devotion, the singing of hymns, and living a virtuous life.

Beliefs and Practices

Ravidassia beliefs are deeply rooted in the principles taught by Guru Ravidas, including the intrinsic unity of God and the soul, and the rejection of caste-based discrimination. The community believes that the human soul is a particle of God and that everyone has the right to meet God, contrary to the prevailing societal norms that barred lower castes from religious practices.

Scriptures and Worship

The central scripture of the Ravidassia faith is the Amritbani Guru Ravidass Ji, which compiles all hymns by Guru Ravidas. This sacred text includes 140 shabads (hymns), 40 pade (poems), and 231 salok (couplets) across 177 pages, reflecting the spiritual and social teachings of Guru Ravidas. Ravidassia places of worship vary in name, including dera, sabha, mandir, gurudwara, or bhawan, and prominently feature the Nishaan, a flag bearing the religion’s symbols, including the “Harr” symbol which signifies enlightenment from Guru Ravidas’ teachings.

Formation and Identity

The Ravidassia religion was formally established following the assassination of Ramanand Dass, a deputy head of the Dera Sach Khand Ballan, in Vienna in 2009 by Sikh radicals. This event precipitated the community’s declaration of a distinct religious identity, separate from Sikhism, marked by the adoption of the Amritbani Guru Ravidass Ji as their holy book, and the introduction of unique religious symbols. Despite this formal separation, the community’s practices include elements of Sikh worship, indicating a blended religious identity.

Demographics and Global Presence

The Ravidassia community has a significant presence in the UK, where the Office for National Statistics recognized Ravidassia as a separate religion during the 2011 census, counting over 11,000 individuals. However, the Indian government has not officially recognized the Ravidassia community as a separate religion, often grouping them with other castes for census purposes. The community also has a presence in Mauritius, where it is known as Ravived.

Festivals and Celebrations

Major Ravidassia festivals include the birthday of Guru Ravidas, celebrated with great fervor in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, and recognized as a gazetted holiday by the government of India. The community also celebrates other festivals such as Diwali and the birthdays of other saints, highlighting the syncretic nature of their religious observance.

The Ravidassia religion embodies a quest for spiritual depth and social equality, grounded in the teachings of Guru Ravidas. Despite facing challenges in recognition and occasional conflicts with Sikhism, the Ravidassia community continues to thrive, promoting a message of unity, love, and devotion across the globe.

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